Administrative Changes at Orchard Lake Schools By Frank J. Dmuchowski and Alicja Karlic

On Tuesday March 8, 2011, the Board of Regents announced that Father Timothy Whalen, the Chancellor of Orchard Lake Schools (OLS) would be leaving his position in July of this year and returning for an assignment in the Pittsburgh Diocese. In that same press release it was announced that Monsignor Charles Kosanke would be leaving his position as Rector of St Cyril and Methodius Seminary and as the Treasurer at OLS to return for assignment in the Detroit Archdiocese. It was further stated that the Board of Regents had a search committee to look for new candidates.

It was further announced that Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron had appointed Auxiliary Bishop Francis Reiss to be the interim Chancellor as of July 1, 2011 if the search committee had not yet filled the position.

Bishop Reiss was born in Hamtramck, Michigan and grew up in southwest Detroit. He is a graduate of St. Andrew High School in Detroit. He speaks Polish and his parents emigrated to America from near Kraków, Poland. Both Fr. Whalen and Msgr. Kosanke have known Bishop Reiss for many years and have kept him fully informed on the Orchard Lake Schools.

It stands to reason that the various bishops involved in this decision would not have made these administrative changes if they felt in any way that this would adversely impact OLS. Yes, there is going to be a period of adjustment when the new senior administrators come on board. That goes with any administrative change at the senior level within any organization. However, OLS is viewed as having a strong structure which can more than adequately handle such change.

As expected, such an announcement has lead to some speculation as to why these events were happening in the first place. This is particularly true, given that Fr. Whalen and Msgr. Kosanke are the two top administrators at Orchard Lake Schools (OLS). Surprising as it might be the answer is very simple and straight forward. The answer is:

“Their respective dioceses, who lent each of them only for a “temporary assignment” to OLS, have needs of their important skills in diocesan positions” (Father Whalen- Pittsburgh and Msgr. Kosanke—Detroit)

As an important side note: Fr. Whalen was asked to stay an extra year by the Board of Regents of OLS. This would have been of great assistance during the future search and transition period unfortunately his bishop, Bishop Zubik, was unable to honor their request.

The purpose of this article is to elaborate on the above answer as to why these changes have occurred and secondly to look at the very significant contribution of these priests to OLS. In preparation for this article Tygodnik Polski had the opportunity to interview Fr. Whalen and Monsignor Kosanke.

Key Point– Priests at OLS Are on Temporary Loan from Their Respective Diocese

In many ways this is the most important and critical point for our readers to fully appreciate: “each of these priest were only on temporary assignment from their dioceses”. They are here at the agreement of their respective bishops; who have the right at their discretion to recall them to meet the needs of their particular diocese.

Fr. Whalen has been at Orchard Lake for over 10 years and Msgr. Kosanke for over 5 years. These are unusually long and generous periods for the inter-diocesan loans of priests. That the inter-diocesan happened in the first place speaks to the importance of their work here at Orchard Lake and the importance of OLS as a Catholic educational institution.

As we are all well aware the Catholic Church in America is facing many challenges including financial, declining attendance, declining number of priests and other religious etc. Consequently every priest and religious must be prepared to accept whatever assignment is given to them. Also related institutions must be prepared for dynamic and rapid change.

Fr. Whalen and Msgr. Kosanke have strong administrative and problem solving skills that have been honed at OLS. These skills are strongly needed within today’s Church. Their home diocese bishop makes the final decision as to where they are posted and what their responsibilities will be.  They are needed in their home diocese.

Goals and Objectives of Father Whalen and Monsignor Kosanke Have Been Achieved

The objectives/goals of these two priests have for all practical purposes have been achieved.

The underlying premise for their goals is that the OLS is first and foremost a successful Catholic educational institution. (I would like to underscore the importance of understanding that OLS is first and foremost a Catholic educational institution). Second is the continued recognition and importance of OLS as a place where Polonia and its many expressions can continue to be celebrated and grow. BOTH of these premises have been continuously reaffirmed by Fr. Whalen and Msgr. Kosanke through their words and their deeds.  In addition Archbishop Vigneron on his two recent visits to OLS has made the same affirmation. He most recently affirmed this position for the 125th anniversary in 2010 of the school’s founding.

In a broad sense their objectives/goals were concentrated in three areas: stabilize the financial and organizational structure of OLS, transform the schools and the seminary to deal with the needs and the reality of the 21st century, and finally to preserve and grow in a meaningful way the history and the values of Polonia.

OLS is a 501-C3 Organization

For purposes of this article it is important to understand that Orchard Lake Schools are organized as a 501 C3 organization which means in very straight forward language that the Church does not own the school or the lands.  OLS is a separate legal organization from the Archdiocese.

It is true that the Archdiocese through the process of lending of priests to OLS has an important although a somewhat indirect participation in the running of the schools on a day-to-day basis. Clearly, the Archdiocese does provide important input on the Seminary.

Polonia does not own OLS although it exerts a strong influence in the preservation and growth of Polish culture. This influence in the future will owe much to gifts and donations that are properly constructed and directed toward foundations which support the on-campus organization the Polish Mission.

OLS does not receive any funding from the Archdiocese.

In other words Orchard Lake Schools stand or fall on the basis of its ability to generate adequate cash flow consistent with its goals and business objectives as a Catholic educational institution with recognition of a history based on the Polish experience.

There is more that goes into understanding the corporate structure and nature of the OLS. These few comments should help to reduce some of the misperceptions of Polonia.

In some sense a part of this article is being written with a business focus. Why, you may ask? Because:

There is no “free lunch”. No matter how noble your history and your goals “if you can’t generate adequate cash flow you will not survive”.

The Situation at Orchard Lake Schools before Father Whalen’s Arrival

Orchard Lake Schools have always been a bastion of Polonia based upon the goals set forth by Father Dąbrowski over 125 years ago. It has always been a very Catholic and Polish organization. For most of the priests and sisters, Polish was their first language and it was the day-to- language at OLS. Many of them were born in Poland. The seminarians who came through Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary were generally sent to the abundance of Polish speaking parishes.

OLS existed in an environment where there were strong Polish language churches where parishioners sent their children to the OLS. It had survived the Great Depression. Students for the schools and seminarian candidates as well as cash flow came from the many Polish speaking parishes. This was more than adequate to cover organizational needs.

The situation could not be better.

In the middle and second half of the 20th century, the student body for the most part was the first generation born in the United States. They were bi-lingual, fluent in Polish and English. The high school, the College and the Seminary were truly elite organizations.

With the beginning of the Second World War the OLS became an important bastion of anti-Nazism and anti-Communism and keeping the hope of a free and independent Poland alive. New émigré’s who could not return to Poland filled the ranks of supporters of OLS.  OLS was an intellectual and cultural center for Polonians in-exile. Through the Knights of Dąbrowski many of the children of the refugees were educated completely free of charge at OLS.

With the election of Karol Wotyła as Pope John Paul II in 1978  and the emergence of Solidarity the battle was joined for the ultimate victory over the  Soviet Union with its God-less and anti-Polish structure. Many of the priests at the school knew Karol Wojtyła before he became pope through their travels to Poland. The future Pope made two visits to Orchard Lake in 1969 and 1976. Some of these priests also travelled to Rome and conferred with then Pope John Paul II.

This was the high water mark of the Orchard Lake Schools.

Unfortunately a new and very subtle reality began to creep in the 1960’s and 1970’s and continues even more strongly into the 21st Century. That was the gradual arrival of students who were less and less bi-lingual. They were primarily English only speaking. Also there were the phenomena of second, third and fourth generation Polonians moving outside of Polish enclaves. They were moving to the suburbs. Increasingly, they were becoming Americans who happened to be of Polish descent. A significant generational transformation was occurring.

Polish-Americans were finally achieving the American dream and at the same time living the Polish experience through the exploits of John Paul II and the Solidarity movement. Anti-Polish attitudes were in significant decline. For the most part all of this was accomplished without Polish Americans having to speak Polish and not having to visit Poland. At the same time in the 1980’s there was also a new flux of Polish émigré’s to America who breathed new life into OLS. The Polish language church Our Lady Częstochowa was started in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Unfortunately there came a period of declining enrollment for the schools. There was also another reality that was happening at OLS. That was the increasing dependence on laity for teaching and other functions.  No longer were the teachers and professors’ just priests and the other functions being handled by the 8 to 10 Felician sisters who lived on campus.

Consequently there was a period of reduced cash flow from outside sources combined with increasing organizational costs. Some of it associated with an increased dependence on the laity.

It became obvious that change was necessary at Orchard Lake because of the increasingly difficult economic environment that OLS was finding itself in. This situation was not unique to OLS. It was impacting many other educational institutions. Sadly a number of them would fail.

In order to try to resolve this situation, an arrangement was made with Tom Monaghan and Ave Maria University to take over the administrative function of Saint Mary’s College because of cash flow problems. In 2000 Saint Mary’s College was absorbed into Ave Maria University.

Arrival of Father Timothy Whalen.

In 2000, Father Whalen arrived to become the new Chancellor. He did not even speak Polish. He came from the diocese of Pittsburgh.  Some Polonians were saying “with an Irish last name of Whalen how could he possibly be “Polish enough” to understand the situation at OLS?” There was even the rumor that he was brought in to handle the orderly ending of the Seminary, the significant reduction of the other schools and perhaps even the liquidation and sale of the entire complex.

Many elements of Polonia were just plain hostile and fearful. Certainly it had to be difficult for him to lead in an environment where Polish was the primary language of some of his fellow priests.

Thankfully, there were people who understood the situation and were especially helpful. In particular there was Msgr. Zdzisław Peszkowski and Fr. Zbigniew Szarnecki, who was the president of the Polish Priest Association in Pittsburgh. This is an association that Fr. Whalen belonged to prior to coming to Orchard Lake.  Also providing comfort for Fr. Whalen was his deep sense of devotion to Our Lady of Częstochowa. (We will speak more about this in Part 2 of the article)

Fr. Whalen came to the OLS with some very special skills. First he understood and believed in the principals and values of Father Dąbrowski. Those values were based upon the belief that OLS was a Catholic educational institution with a deep sense of respect for its Polish roots and Polonia. Where did Father Whalen get these values?

He was a graduate of the OLS high school Saint Mary’s Preparatory. He in fact was very Polish in his upbringing. His paternal grandmother was Polish and his paternal grandfather was raised by a Polish mother and Polish stepfather.  His father attended the Polish school of Saint Adalbert’s in Pittsburgh. He was sent by the pastor of Saint Adalbert to Orchard Lake for high school where he was a classmate of Fr. Milewski. He related to us how he was deeply affected by the passing of his grandmother who had suffered from Alzheimer’s.  Towards the end of her life she when she could not remember how to speak, she never forgot the melodies of the Kolędy and she would hum them.

This is the person, the priest, who came to Orchard Lake as Chancellor in 2000.

From the perspective of these writers, the greatest strength of Fr. Whalen is that he is a visionary. He set a challenging goal for OLS and he had the will, the fortitude, and the determination to lead OLS to where it is today:

It is an institution that can look forward to the future with confidence. It has the best financial situation that it has had in many years. With a Seminary that is prospering as it brings candidates for the priesthood from Poland to where they will be placed in American parishes, some with strong a strong Polonian presence. It was also his vision to establish the Polish Mission.

This promising future for OLS did not come without challenges. One of the challenges that Fr. Whalen faced occurred in 2003 when Tom Monaghan and Ave Maria University ceased its affiliation with OLS.  At that time because of its attractive location OLS was approached by different colleges including the University of Michigan. They were interested in a creating satellite campus at the site of the former Saint Mary’s College.

Fr.Whalen and the Board of Regents selected Madonna College to affiliate with OLS. In addition, to its strong educational excellence and strong financials, it was run by the Felicians. It was Father J. Dąbrowski who brought the Felician sisters to the United States in the 19th century. This preserved the historical and cultural link with this Polish community of sisters that was so loved and respected by Father Dąbrowski.

Fr. Whalen was very complimentary toward all of those who have helped in administering the Orchard Lake Schools. In addition to Msgr. Peszkowski, he is grateful to Bishop Reiss, Father Mirosław Król who was the vice-Rector of the Seminary and Msgr. Kosanke who has been the Rector of the Seminary for the past 5+ years.

Fr. Whalen went on to say “I am very grateful that I consider as friends people who were uncertain of my goals and objectives and Polish background when I first came to OLS”

He will be returning to Pittsburgh in July. In the letter that Bishop David Zubik sent to him he said “your leadership skills will be a gift in a significant way as pastoral necessities have arisen. Your willingness to accept a future assignment based on those needs is a source of comfort to me.”

Arrival of Monsignor Kosanke

Monsignor Kosanke was another surprising arrival a little over 5years ago. Here was this American priest of Polish descent (more specifically Kashubian) who also spoke no Polish. His assignment was to be the Rector for the Saint Cyril and Methodius Seminary. Well this was greeted with shock and surprise by many Polonians. How could his appointment benefit OLS let alone the Seminary?

Well the Seminary has prospered an increasing number of seminarians to meet the great demand for priests in America. Currently, there are 33 seminarians on Campus, and 7 waiting to come to the United States. Almost all of the seminarians have come here after one year at the Polish Seminary in Poland. This seminary is run by the OLS Seminary with the blessing of Cardinal Dziwisz and the Archdiocese of Kraków. The purpose of this seminary is to identify those individuals who would have the best opportunity of being a successful priest within the United States. Those who are accepted are sent to Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary for the remainder of their training.

As Msgr. Kosanke pointed out these new Polish born priests bring to their American parishes a deeper sense of Catholicism. For example, there is a greater frequency of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

One of the significant accomplishments of Msgr. Kosanke is that the seminary has recently received a 10 year accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) which represents over 200 Catholic and Protestant seminaries in North America. Previously the Seminary had a 5 year accreditation which meant that there were conditions that needed to be corrected. He is now on the Board of the ATS.

Because of his financial background Msgr. Kosanke was asked to become more deeply involved in the finances of OLS. His contribution in this area was greatly complimented by Fr. Whalen.

Msgr. Kosanke made very clear to us that it was Fr. Whalen and his vision that helped him to successfully change the Seminary to be consistent with the 21st century reality that faces the Catholic Church of not enough priests.

Msgr. Kosanke will be re-assigned to the Detroit Archdiocese. His new responsibilities have not been made announced.

Conclusion of Part 1

In our next article we will be speaking in more depth about the contributions of Father Whalen and Msgr. Kosanke. Additionally we will speak to the challenges that will be faced by the Search Committee of the Board of Regents and the nature of the OLS today with its international student body.

Let us close this first part with a summary of a comment Fr. Whalen made to us. It is his hope

That  the next Chancellor, in additional to all the skills needed to take OLS forward,  will also have a deep feeling and understanding for the Polish values and the educational philosophy that have so successfully shaped  Orchard Lake Schools since its founding by Father Dąbrowski over 125 years ago.

This article is the conclusion of a two part article on the administrative changes at Orchard Lake Schools. The first part published in our March 16-23 issue covered considerably more ground then simply announcing the changes at OLS. We covered some of the important history of OLS, the situation at OLS just before the time of Fr. Timothy Whalen in 2000. This was followed by the arrival of Msgr. Charles Kosanke five years later.

Then we spoke about the changes at OLS and the status of where it is today. It has a growing prep school, a relation with the Felician run Madonna University to use the former St. Mary’s College buildings, as well as the growth and direction of SS Cyril and Methodius Seminary, the continuously improving financial conditions, and a strong commitment to Polonia through the establishment of the Polish Mission.

We spoke about why the top administrators were leaving and that Father Whalen was asked by the Board of Regents to stay on one additional year by the Board of Regents. Unfortunately Bishop David A. Zubik was unable to agree to this request as Fr. Whalen’s presence was required in his home diocese of Pittsburgh.

In order to understand the changes that were occurring at OLS we would like to mention again three points that are important for the reader to keep in mind;

  • All of these priests including Fr. Whalen were ONLY on temporary loan from their home diocese. The Bishops of their home diocese have the privilege to call them back at any time.

  • The fact that the top 4 administrator were called back is an indication of the great need that their Bishop’s have for their skills at this time. Skills that were honed at OLS which was in a very difficult situation when Father Whalen arrived. We are all aware of the challenges that face the Church in America. So it should be no surprise that they were called back to help their respective Bishops.

Let’s make a business analogy. Let’s view OLS as a division within a very large corporation. Suppose that this division was in great difficulty and the leaders of other larger divisions felt that this smaller division deserved to be saved and so they lent some of their best executives. After a period of time the Corporation and its large divisions started to have great difficulties. So what do the top executives do? They recall the “lent executives” who were incredibly successful, because they need their critical skills. It is that simple!

  • OLS has the internal resources and the fundamental vision to maintain and continue its growth and success. The Bishop’s who lent their key personnel want OLS to be successful To help insure that this is the case Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron has allowed for Auxiliary Bishop Francis Reiss to be the temporary Chancellor if no Chancellor has been found by July 1, 2011. Bishop Reiss who has known both Fr. Whalen and Msgr.Kosanke for many years has always been kept in the loop through detailed conversations over the years.

SS Cyril and Methodius Seminary—Msgr. Charles Kosanke and Father Mirosław Król

In our last issue we spoke briefly of the transformation of the Seminary from an institution that primarily developed priests for Polish speaking parishes in America. These same parishes in turn were the primary sources of new seminarians. As we are all aware there has been a serious decline in the number of priestly vocations in America. Yet the demand is still there.

The solution to this supply/demand problem was to see if it would be possible to bring Polish born seminarians to America for their final years of education at SS Cyril and Methodius. Then upon becoming priests, for the most part, they would be placed in Polish-American parishes where in addition to Polish, English was becoming a primary language for many parishioners. Furthermore these priests would serve the many small Polish émigré’ communities that are scattered throughout the United States. The serving of these small communities is in many ways one of their great joys! After all they themselves are émigrés.

The transformation of SS Cyril and Methodius to help solve this supply/demand problem represents a remarkable organizational change. This was transformation that few organizations (religious, business, non-profit etc.) would have been capable of achieving. Just think about it. One of the first challenges would have been to simply help individuals to deal with the cultural shock of the changes that were to come. Then there were the challenges of finding the right people to run the Seminary, the need for the cooperation of the Church in Poland, and the development of the right selection process for new seminarians.

To achieve this transformation required priests, who had great vision and who were capable of conceiving and effectively implementing such change. In any organization these types of individuals are difficult to find. Both Fr. Whalen and Msgr. Kosanke have told us that they believe that it was the hand of God that allowed this to happen.

Msgr. Kosanke who is the Rector of the Seminary spoke of the great importance of Father Whalen receiving a second term as Chancellor in his agreeing to accept the position of Rector of the Seminary.

There was the also the challenge of finding a respected priest of great influence in Poland who understood the need for “Polish born seminarians” to go to America and minister primarily in Polish and Polish-American parishes. That person turned out to be Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz of Kraków.

Perhaps it should not be surprising that it was Cardinal Dziwisz. After all, it was Pope John Paul II, who before he became pope twice stayed at Orchard Lake. Consequently he knew and understood what OLS what is, and the importance of the Seminary. After he became pope he continued to receive priests from Orchard Lake some of whom he has known for many years. At his coronation in 1978, he explicitly said:

“Fill Orchard Lake to capacity, sustain Orchard Lake, We need Orchard Lake”. In another instance he said “If there was no Orchard Lake Schools, it would be necessary to create them”

No doubt John Paul II shared his thinking about Orchard Lake with many individuals including now Cardinal Dziwisz, who was his personal secretary at the Vatican.

Fr.Whalen, who reads and writes in Polish and gives sermons in Polish, and Msgr. Kosanke, realized that they did not speak Polish to the extent that would have been necessary. To them it was clear that they needed someone who was bi-lingual, who understood Poland, the Polish view of the world as well as the situation in America. In addition this person had to be administratively skilled and capable of carrying out the practical elements of the transformation of SS Cyril and Methodius at Orchard Lake and the related Polish Seminary in Kraków.

The person who chose to take on this important role was Father Mirosław Król, who became and is the Vice Rector and Dean of Human Formation of the Seminary. In addition to handling many of the practical details of the transformation, Father Król had the opportunity to develop a strong rapport with Cardinal Dziwisz.

In our interviews with them, both Father Whalen and Msgr. Kosanke highly praised Fr. Król’s accomplishments and the important role that he played in the transformation of the Seminary. Father Whalen said to us:

“Father Król was absolutely critical to the successful transformation of SS Cyril and Methodius Seminary. With the blessing of Cardinal Dziwisz, Fr. Król led that critical effort to establish the Polish Seminary which is to providing seminarian who would receive their final education at SS Cyril and Methodius. The importance of his contribution cannot be overstated and I hope will be fully and gratefully appreciated by all of Polonia.”

Fr. Król’s Next Assignment.

It was announced by Msgr. Kosanke on March 24, 2011 that Fr. Król has been appointed Director of the John Paul II- Be Not Afraid Foundation” by Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz the Archbishop of Kraków and Archbishop John J. Meyers of the Archdiocese of Newwark, New Jersey. The purpose of the foundation is to promote the legacy of John Paul II and raise funds for the foundation. (Newark, New Jersey is Father Król’s home diocese)

In addition he has been appointed Pastor of St. Theresa Parish in Linden N.J. Saint Theresa is one of the largest Polish-American Catholic parishes in New Jersey. His appointment begins on July 1, 2011.

We hope to interview Fr. Król at some time in the near future. Not only would this give Polonia the opportunity to recognize his accomplishments, but also to understand some of the reasons for the success of the Polish Seminary in Kraków. This seminary is the responsibility of SS. Cyril and Methodius with the blessing of Cardinal Dziwisz.

Furthermore such an interview would also be important because it may be an important catalyst for some of our readers to provide additional important funding to the “John Paul II -Be Not Afraid Foundation” for which he has been given leadership responsibility.

Correction: In our last article we inadvertently said that “Father Król was the Vice Rector of SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary” when we should have said that “He is the Vice Rector”. We sincerely apologize for this error.

Msgr. Kosanke’s Next Assignment

It has been announced that Msgr. Kosanke will become the pastor of St. Regis Catholic Church in Bloomfield Hills Michigan effective July 1, 2011. Concurrently, he has been be given another as yet unannounced appointment by Archbishop Vigneron.

These are significant appointments which we believe demonstrates the great regard with which the Archdiocese holds him in. We hope to interview him after he has time to settle in his new responsibilities. He has certainly done a remarkable work at the Seminary and as Treasurer at OLS.

Father Whalen’s Next Assignment

Fr. Whalen will be returning to Pittsburgh effective July 1, 2011 for as yet an unannounced position.

His Vice Chancellor Father James K. Mazurek returned earlier this year to Pittsburgh to become the pastor of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament/ Saint Joseph. Fr. Mazurek had been for 25+ years a member of the administration of OLS when Fr. Whalen appointed him Vice Chancellor in 2001. Fr. Mazurek was at OLS for over 34+ years.

We look forward to speaking with Fr. Whalen after his return to the diocese of Pittsburgh.

The Polish Mission

One of Fr. Whalen’s greatest accomplishments for Polonia was his decision to create the Polish Mission. The purpose of the Polish Mission is to preserve and promote Polish and Polish-American culture, tradition and history for present and future generations. The Polish Mission organizes programs, courses and events that achieve this objective.

One of the most interesting and important developments within the Polish Mission was the creation of the Polish American Research Institute which is under the direction of Cecilia Jensen. Ms. Jensen is an American of Polish descent who is also much interested in her own family’s roots in Poland.

As Father Whalen explained it is important to appreciate that in the future more and more Americans of Polish descent will want to find out about their roots. They now have little resources available to help them. The goal of PARI is to implement technology, provide resources and access to information both here and eventually in Poland that will help them find their personal family history.

Remembering

For many of us in Polonia the greatest mark of a person is his/her ability to remember a friend and the final wishes of that a friend.

Father Whalen during last year’s visit of Cardinal Glemp related attending the burial service of Msgr. Peszkowski. In his pocket was a packet of earth from under the Katyń Memorial at Orchard Lake.  He related:

“Msgr. Peszkowski was being buried in the new Basilica of Divine Providence in Warsaw. There were thousands of people in attendance and the pageantry was beautiful to experience. Near the end of the service just before the casket was to be sealed in its crypt, Msgr. Peszkowski’ personal secretary Anna said to me “Ziemia, Ziemia”. Remembering the packet of earth, I quickly handed it to her and she immediately handed it to a Polish soldier who quickly placed this packet of earth on his casket at the last moment as his crypt was to be sealed.”

As some of us know it was the final wish of Msgr. Peszkowski to be buried at Katyń where many of his brutally slain friends and colleagues lay or to be buried to be buried at Częstochowa. However, it was decided to give him a prominent place of burial in Warsaw. This was to be above the tomb of the famous priest and one of the most acclaimed Polish poets of our time, Father Jan Twardowski.

Yet perhaps for Msgr. Peszkowski this simple packet of earth, a remembrance of Katyń, was the most important honor of all.

Father Whalen remembered Msgr. Peszkowski’s deep love for Orchard Lake where he spent many years. He also remembered the help he received from Msgr. Peszkowski’s who were to become his friend and adviser. (This little piece of information we only became aware during the interview.)

In a very real sense Fr. Whalen came as close as was possible to honor his friend’s last request to be buried at Katyń. He remembered!

The Legacy of Father Whalen

Fr. Whalen is a true visionary who has had the remarkable ability to see the potential not only for the Orchard Lake Schools but also the potential within each individual with whom he has interacted. He has that unique ability to inspire people by placing confidence in them and genuinely supporting them in their efforts to achieve goals that were mutually agreed upon.

He came to Orchard Lake as someone who had a deep emotional connection to it. Not only he, but also his father and youngest brother attended Saint Mary’s Prep. His uncle/godfather was trained as a seminarian here.

We can imagine him walking the grounds late at night during a warm summer’s evening with the aroma of the evergreens hanging heavy in the air and the moon drifting lazily over the lake. Perhaps reflecting on how much of his life and that of his family had been intertwined with the Orchard Lake.

We can also imagine Father Whalen stopping at the statue of Fr. Dąbrowski on a winter’s eve with the snow gently falling and thinking of his personal responsibility to preserve the legacy of the Orchard Lake Schools. Whoever chose Fr. Whalen must have seen not only someone who would be an effective leader in a period of rapid cultural and financial  change but  also someone who understood at a very deep level  the mission of Fr. Dąbrowski.

Fr. Whalen’s legacy is a strong and growing Orchard Lake Schools that successfully exists in a rapidly changing and demanding world. At the same time he has managed to preserve the mission that Father Dąbrowski created over 125 years ago.

A remarkable legacy!

Concluding Remark

Just prior to coming to Orchard Lake, as Chancellor, Fr. Whalen went on retreat to Częstochowa where he stayed at the monastery, Jasna Góra. It was there that he dedicated himself to Our Lady of Częstochowa and asked for her continual guidance. As he now leaves Orchard Lake, he commends the Orchard Lake Schools to her protection and guidance.

Polonia has been greatly blessed with the presence of Father Whalen.

Now it is time for us to remember!

By Alicja Karlic         and              Frank J. Dmuchowski

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